Last week, the City of Albuquerque announced the finalization of the $15 million purchase of the Gibson Medical Center. The 572,000-square-foot facility will ultimately become the Gateway Center that will offer 24/7 overnight sheltering for the homeless and access to other services.
While the next step is to develop a more concrete plan for how to use the space, the plan currently proposes to offer 150 to 175 beds for men, women, and families, plus an additional 25 to 50 medical recovery beds.
The City noted in a press release that the Gateway Center could also grow to offer other services:
- A 24/7 drop-off for first responders and safety officers,
- On-site medical and behavioral health services,
- Short-term emergency shelter,
- Direct physical connection for Veteran’s experiencing homelessness to the VA
- Links to other needed services, and
- A pathway to permanent housing
The project represents years of planning – city voters approved $14 million for the project two years ago, following a bond campaign spearheaded by the Chamber and Mayor Tim Keller – and collaboration between the City of Albuquerque and other local entities like Bernalillo County and the University of New Mexico. The City will receive $4 million in state capital outlay funds for the project (approved this past legislative session). Bernalillo County also contributed $1 million to the purchase, and a coalition of Chamber-member businesses donated another $500,000 to the project.
The City’s Homeless Coordinating Council met Tuesday morning to discuss the project’s progress. The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s Chair of its Downtown Transformation BIG Del Esparza addressed the Council to share the Chamber’s support. “For all the various things that folks in our community may disagree on, with respect to how we address homelessness, we can all agree we do not have enough overnight shelter beds in Albuquerque, and those we do have are far from the city’s core and can be difficult to access,” he told the Council. “The Chamber has studied the issue of homelessness for years, and we believe it’s imperative that access to assistance and services be co-located – everything from ID recovery to short-term medical care to behavioral health screenings – in order to adequately support a person and connect them to the full range of help they likely need,” he added.
GACC President and CEO Terri Cole said, “We have long advocated for 24/7 sheltering that will draw people in need from downtown and connect them to the services they need. We know there’s more to do – a lot more. But this is a welcome step in the right direction.”